Best Place for a New-Age Cat
South Penn Cat Clinic
311 S. Pennsylvania St.
Cats whose owners follow holistic lifestyles may want to stock up on vitamin treatments and herbal remedies, too. Many of them find their way to the South Penn Cat Clinic, where Linda East has practiced holistic cat care for the past six years. East has about 2,000 feline patients who come for nutritional counseling, natural therapies and homeopathic care. Lay off those antibiotics, Socks!
Best Cat House
The Cat Care Society
5985 W. 11th Ave., Lakewood
If you're strictly into felines, the Cat Care Society has one for you. Kitties of all ages, colors, shapes and temperaments roam the rooms of this Lakewood house; the Society even holds open houses and kitten showers. The primary goal is to match each puss to the right owner, an altruistic purpose reflected in the detailed questions staffers ask when you come to inquire. Then, for $40, you get the perfect pet--spay/neuter included.
Best Cheap CDs
Four metro locations
Whenever you're finished sniffing about which trendy record store is better than the rest, hop in your car and go straight to Best Buy. Amid the boom boxes and office furniture, you'll find a wealth of new CDs of all persuasions, most of which clock in at under $12 each. While Best Buy might not satisfy your penchant for the esoteric, it does stock lots of oldies (useful if you're switching over from vinyl to CD) and certainly anything from the mainstream of rock, blues, country and jazz. But at last word, you could also find Anatomy of a Groove, by the avant-garde M-Base Collective, right there among the Earl Klughs and David Sanborns.
Best Album Selection
626 E. 13th Ave.
How does Wax Trax do it? Volume. This long-playing local favorite stocks the widest variety of albums in the area, including local releases, domestics, imports and some items so obscure it's surprising you can buy them anywhere. And all in a Capitol Hill location that lets you keep up on the latest rock-and-roll hair colors and fashion trends.
Best Used Vinyl
Twist and Shout
724 S. Pearl St.
For those of you selling old discs, the folks at Twist and Shout pay high-end prices--which means that those of you buying old discs are more apt to find the latest stuff here than anywhere else. In addition, the clerks actually know what they're talking about--a rarity in any business.
Best Neighborhood Jazz Record Store
Twilight Jazz Discs & Tapes
2305 Champa St.
It's small and the selection is sometimes hit-or-miss, but a must-have or two always turns up at Twilight Jazz Discs & Tapes. Now three years old, Twilight joins the Hue-Man Experience, Genre Gallery, Akente Express and other culturally derived businesses in a revitalizing effort for the surrounding Curtis Park neighborhood.
Best Collection of Used Go-Go's Records
Black and Read
7821 Wadsworth Blvd., Arvada
The staff at Black and Read is hard-pressed to explain the surplus of vinyl they've dedicated to the nearly forgotten Eighties girl group. We can only guess that these were pity purchases, but the oversight (er, overstock) keeps prices down, and that's all we care about. So impressed were they with the titles of some of our recent purchases, they offered to give us a Go-Go's record. Would we take it? Our lips are sealed.
Best Place to Find Old Phonograph Needles
Bosley's TV and Radio
6512 S. Broadway
For the record, locating replacement parts for old phonographs can be tougher than finding a needle in a haystack. That's why you should head straight to Bosley's. This old-time shop located in a Littleton strip mall stocks a vast array of out-of-date items, including a huge number of phonograph needles. Bring your turntable to guarantee a perfect match; if you live in the area and don't know how to dismantle your system, Bosley's will send someone out to do it. True 78-style service in a digital world.
Best Video Rentals (Current Titles)
Eight metro locations
Okay, so you won't find that obscure DeSica classic with the original English subtitles, but it's hard to beat Video City's clean, well-lighted chain outlets for courtesy and middle-of-the-road selection. The mailer-coupon deals aren't bad, either, and the kids can score their favorite video-game cassettes.
Readers' choice: Blockbuster
Best Video Rentals (Classics)
1205 E. 9th Ave.
Capitol Hill's popular Videotique isn't the biggest or widest-ranging place in town, but the staff knows its celluloid and will happily talk your ear off on the subject if you like. Hollywood musicals play well here, and if you're looking for the complete works of cult faves like John Waters or Jane Campion, you're in the right building. Members get three flicks for $5.95 weekdays, and the 99-cent specials will appeal to budgeteers.
Readers' choice: Blockbuster
Best Combination Romantic Weekend Getaway and Lamaze Class
Hyatt Regency Downtown
1750 Welton St.
There's plenty of heavy breathing during these weekend getaways--but not all of it romantic. For couples who can't seem to make weekly meetings, six times a year Rose Medical Center crams an entire course of childbirth classes into one intensive weekend at the Hyatt Regency.
Best Way to Spend a Long Lunch Hour
700 16th St.
Want to get lost? Not a problem at Media Play, the new store in the Denver Dry Building that's both terrifyingly huge and stocked with just about every modern form of escape known to man. The long-awaited megastore opened this May to boffo downtown crowds who crowded the gates for a chance to peruse miles of CDs, videotapes, computer games, books and even comic books and baseball cards. The stock is impressive, if not adventurous, and prices are ever so easy on the entertainment budget. Open Sundays, too, 16th Street Mall-crawlers.
Best Used Computers
Discount Used Computer
2422 S. Colorado Blvd.
The largest, cleanest and best-stocked showroom in the Denver area for pre-owned PCs and Macs, Discount Used Computer proves that reality doesn't always byte. In addition to a vast selection of new and used parts, these guys offer plenty of peripherals: printers, modems, CD-ROMs, sound cards and even new computers at competitive prices.
Best Bulletin Board System
The Pinecliffe BBS
The oldest and largest BBS in the Denver area, the Pinecliffe has it all. Now with eighteen phone lines, sixteen CD-ROMs and more than sixteen gigabytes of programs and information available, it's almost twice as large as other bulletin boards claim to be. As if that weren't enough, the system has satellite linkups that provide its users with E-mail and news feeds. Wimpy? NOT!
Best Free Public Access to the Internet
Nyx, the Spirit of the Night
Computer Science Department
University of Denver
Professor Andrew Burt of DU's computer science department provides the best on-ramp to the Infobahn we've seen. The Nyx system provides no-cost access and a cozy community feel to anyone wanting to surf the Internet. It's an all-volunteer operation--donations are welcome but not required--that proves you don't have to pay big bucks for great service. Drive your modem to 871-3324 to sign on.
Best Local Stop on the Information Superhighway
3801 E. Florida Ave.
Since it was founded six years ago to market the Colorado Alliance of Research Libraries, CARL has spun off into its own corporation and become an international leader in library and information computer systems. Among its creations: UnCover, the world's largest magazine-article database, and the Kid's Catalog, a joint venture between the Denver Public Library and Apple Computers.
Best Alternative School
Colorado's Finest Alternative High School
2323 W. Baker Ave., Englewood
Colorado's Finest Alternative High School lived up to its grandiose title this year when Redbook named it the best high school in the state. Even before it was honored with that national accolade, though, the Englewood district school was winning raves for its ability to not only keep at-risk kids in school but to keep them learning, too. By concentrating on how students perform rather than on their attendance figures and other mainstream minutiae, Colorado's Finest has managed to chalk up a 90 percent graduation rate--and 70 percent of those graduates go on to college.
Best Educational Alternative for Adults
Emily Griffith Opportunity School
1250 Welton St.
For 77 years now, the Emily Griffith Opportunity School has been teaching Denver the value of continuing education. An offshoot of Denver Public Schools, EGOS offers incredibly low-cost classes in everything from flower arranging to deli management to marketing. But its toughest assignment could still lie ahead: The school has contracted to train airport workers in the intricacies of the BAE baggage system. Miss Emily, who always urged students to straighten up and fly right, would be proud.
Best Institution of Really Higher Learning in a Former Motel
Maharishi Vedic University
13650 E. Colfax Ave., Aurora
Ommmmm. When a school bills itself as "the university of consciousness, bringing enlightenment and mastery over Natural Law to everyone," it's easy to transcend such mundane details as the school's surroundings--even surroundings as mundane as the former digs of the Park Inn motel in Aurora, now elevated to the campus of Maharishi Vedic University. The school, which is based on the teachings of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who introduced transcendental meditation to the West almost forty years ago, offers short courses in such disciplines as "Good Health Through Prevention" and "Vedic Management: Natural Law-Based Invincible Management." Even more important to potential students, however, are the other amenities: plenty of on-campus housing and lots of free parking.
Best New-Age Mecca
2130 Arapahoe Ave., Boulder
Dedicated to the concepts of contemplative learning, Naropa's halls have been wide open and over the edge now for twenty years. What started as a summertime hangout for venerable beat poets and followers of Chogyam Trungpa, Rinpoche, the institute has blossomed into a year-round arts, meditation and psychology mecca. The summer program may still be its strongest point, though, with celebrity faculty to burn (this year's guests include poets Amiri Baraka and Allen Ginsberg, painters Francesco Clemente and Larry Rivers, jazz master Cecil Taylor and composer Meredith Monk)--making it easy to look forward to the next twenty Naropa years.
Best Extra-Credit Project
Inferno Effects Corporation
970 Union Ave., Boulder
University of Colorado students Jeff Grantham, Johannes Laun and Steve Shattil will soon have more than a piece of sheepskin to show for their years in school: They'll have a piece of Inferno Effects Corporation--the first company founded through a class at the business school. That's where Grantham and Laun met last year and first began discussing starting a company. And they knew just what kind of company after they hooked up with engineering Ph.D. candidate Steve Shattil, who'd spent five years developing a handheld synthesizer for electric guitars that uses a radical new technology based on techniques that eliminate electromagnetic interference. After winning $1,000 in a business-plan competition, the trio incorporated Inferno in June. Says the team, "It's nice to get more than just a grade from a class."
Best Hair-Raising Invention
Think your haircut sucks? That's exactly what Alfred Natrasevschi, a Fort Collins engineer, had in mind when he patented his RoboCut, a vacuum-powered do-it-yourself barbering machine now available at a Wal-Mart near you. RoboCut uses a vacuum (it's built-in in the $189 deluxe model; you supply your own for the $79.95 standard and Pet Groomer package) to pull hair up a tube into the patented and top-secret RoboCut blades, which trim hair to a precise length; special attachments allow the home haircutter to create special styles. Something in a shag, maybe?
Best Shoe-Repair Shop
Veto's Shoe Shop
2449 W. Main St., Littleton
Veto's has been on Main Street for 65 years, 35 of them in the same storefront. Veto's gone now, but his wisecracking son delivers your nearly-brand-spanking-new shoes with a joke; the more serious grandson preserves the ambience of the shop with his collection of shoemaking figurines from around the globe. You can buy a pair of moccasins or work boots (available new and used), or you can just get your present clodhoppers patched up. Sole-search no further.
Best Nostalgic Dry Cleaners
1581 S. Pearl St.
Look in the window and you'll be fooled: Is it an antique store or a relic dropped off by a time machine? The windows and walls are filled with objects related to laundering--old wringer washers, metal washboards, soap boxes and advertisements. The owners started out years ago with a few pieces of their own, but enthusiastic customers got into the act and provided the rest. And the service? They'll dry-clean your delicates with care, just as you'd expect--and regulars get their suits back in a reusable bag that can be returned with the next load.
Best Collection of Washing Machines
The Warehouse of Yesteryear
History comes clean at Bob Moss's Warehouse of Yesteryear, a 2,820-square-foot shrine to the washing machine, located in the town of Clark. The 76-year-old Moss has gone through the wringer to find and restore his collection, which includes almost 100 contraptions dating from 1860 to 1935. "It's the thought process that intrigues me," Moss explains. "You can just see the advancement in the ease of the operation."
Best Old-Fashioned Dish Towels
Central Bag and Burlap
2715 Blake St.
Wash your hands of expensive, environmentally incorrect paper goods. Central Bag and Burlap carries an extensive stock of cotton flour-sack dish towels that are strong enough to stand up to any job.
Best Place to Register for Wedding Gifts
The Artisan Center
2757 E. 3rd Ave.
So you're planning on having a nontraditional wedding with a purple gown and flowery tie? Well, maybe you're also hankering for nontraditional wedding gifts. No problem; the Artisan Center, stocked with handmade household goodies, is happy to keep a wish list for you. Choose from hardy stoneware platters and stylish hand-blown goblets, woven placemats and wooden cutting boards; whatever the booty, it will beautifully express your desire to be different.
Best Place to Buy Wedding Gifts
Eight metro locations
If you have a deep-seated need to shop in the lap of luxury, forget Tuesday Morning. If not, come on in. The bare-bones shelves are piled with fancy crystal and silver, kitchen appliances, towels and tableware, all at cut-rate prices that will make cash-strapped wedding guests salivate.
Best Place to Hold a Wedding Reception
1859 York St.
An elegant Victorian mansion facing City Park on York Street, Parkside Suites was built in 1905 by a family in the lumber business--a fact made apparent with one look at the interior, which is embellished with finely carved wood, including an inlaid cherry ceiling in the living room. Rental fees ensure use of the entire building--there's an ample ballroom with a fireplace, a garden room and even an upstairs roof garden--and the proprietors will throw in a dash of wedding-planning advice along with the tables and chairs.
Best Outdoor Hitching Post
Golden Gate Canyon State Park
3873 Hwy. 46
You promised yourselves it would be small and intimate, remember? At Panorama Point, there's just enough room for you and the view, which is spectacular. So's the cost: a $3 park permit per vehicle is your only expense. Don't forget to reserve early, or you may have an unexpected double wedding on your hands.
Capitol Hill Mansion
1207 Pennsylvania St.
According to part-owner Charles Hillestad, "If you can't win the heart of your `significant other' at the Capitol Hill Mansion, it can't be done," and he ought to know--his Queen Anne and Cheyenne Canyon Inns in Denver and Colorado Springs have already racked up the stars in national guidebooks for their winning charm and elegance. The new bed-and-breakfast, opened just this year, is situated in a turreted red sandstone mansion appointed with oak paneling and fireplaces, stained-glass windows, a grand staircase, balconies and mountain views from the upper floors--along with not-so-old-fashioned comforts like whirlpool baths and air conditioning.
Best Place to Swing From the Chandeliers
621 Kalamath St.
At Livran's, the light show is always going--and what a great, gaudy, decorator-friendly show it is. There are antler chandeliers for those smitten by the Southwest, cast-metal fixtures with animal cutouts, antique cow lamps, creeping neoclassical verdigris, a double-decker-bus lamp for the kids, swimming-pool lights and just about anything you could possibly want to switch on in your dining room. Tune in and turn on.
Best Party Invitations
1743 Wazee St.
Some people just do not take RSVPs seriously, raising the possibility that hosts and hostesses may find themselves saddled with 300 leftover wienie rolls. So skip the niceties next time and make attendance compulsory with the help of blank subpoenas from Bradford Publishing. The forms include spaces to fill in the date, time and address of your soiree. Best of all, they close with a no-excuses warning: "Disobedience of this subpoena may be punished by a fine, imprisonment, or both."
Best Place to Get Out on the Dance Floor
The Academy of Creative Dance
3950 Tennyson St.
Bigger is most definitely not better at the intimate Academy of Creative Dance, where the average class size is three students and the amount of personal attention lavished on them by teacher Lisa Wood is nothing short of extraordinary. You don't have to look, act or dress like a dancer here, either--as long as you have the urge to move.
Best Floor-Sanding Guys
Certified Cleaning Supplies & Equipment
1180 Kalamath St.
Anybody can rent you a floor sander. Well, anybody who rents floor sanders can. But Michael Kaplan, owner of Certified Cleaning Supplies & Equipment, is more enthusiastic about it. He runs one of the smaller shops in town, with only about twelve machines. If you don't know how to operate one, he'll demonstrate on a well-burnished section of wood floor in a corner of his shop. The best feature of his business, though, is damage control. If, say, you should rent a sander and take it home to your rented home and then operate it in a manner so as to dig large, swirly and seemingly irrepairable ruts into the wood, not to worry. You can call Mike anytime (even after hours: He carries a pager). If things are really sticky, he'll come by and oversee the repairs.
Best Ski-Tuning Guys
7848 County Line Rd., Littleton
9219 Sheridan Blvd., Westminster
Denver Sports' two locations combine the volume and dealmaking capacity of the big guys with the service of a specialty shop. The employees are all hardcore skiers who know their sport and the equipment. Yet they'll lead even novice skiers through equipment decisions without talking down to them. And where most big ski stores machine-tune skis, Denver Sports hires experts in precision hand-tuning to work on your boards--the same sort of attention the pros demand.
Best Short Hop
RTD's Rockies Ride
Market Street Station
The Rockies Ride buses run every few minutes, there are no parking hassles, fans get dropped off smack in front of Mile High Stadium and the ride costs only $2 (free for kids 6 and under). If you're running late, don't worry about it: The buses keep running fifteen minutes after the first pitch. In a twist added for this season, those who get to Market Street Station on another RTD bus can transfer to the Rockies Ride for free.
Best Way to Get Folks on the Bus
The people at RTD will stop at nothing to get you to ride the bus to work. The tax-deductible Eco Pass (good for one year of unlimited rides-- including the new SkyRide to DIA) is available to businesses as a benefit for employees, and the accompanying Guaranteed Ride Home Program takes the butterflies out of taking the bus to work: Participants can count on free taxi service when faced with emergencies or schedule changes.
Cramped seats, shrink-wrapped meals and aisles so narrow you can't get past the beverage cart to the bathroom--and these days, those are the expensive airline seats! At upstart Morris Air, you make the sacrifices up front. There are a relative handful of daily departures from Stapleton, the accommodations are strictly budget, things aren't always entirely organized, and whatever your final destination, you have to get there via the airline's Salt Lake City hub. But as long as you don't mind Utah, you can save up to hundreds per hop on flights through the West. At least for now, anyway: The finnicky Morris, owned by discount pioneer Southwest Airlines, recently announced it won't stick around to pay the high costs of doing business at DIA. The airline will fly off into the sunset October 3--so enjoy it while you can.
Readers' choice: United
Best Place to Ride Out of Town on a Railcar
1444 Wazee St.
Let's say you like to ride in style, and let's say you have between $75,000 and $2 million burning a hole in your pocket. Why not visit RNTX Corporation and commission a private train car so luxurious it's known in the trade as a "land yacht"? Brett Hall and his craftsmen can find you the perfect little conveyance--they have sources all over the U.S., and a client list to back it up. "We made a car for Merle Haggard," Hall recalls, "though, of course, the IRS has it now. Other than that, our customers are plumbers, printers, politicians--anything." Shouldn't you get on track?
Best Valet Parking
It doesn't seem that long ago that downtown Denver was deserted at night. Now it's hot, hot, hot, and parking is at a premium--particularly in the neighborhood of Larimer Square. Which is why the Square's neighborly gesture of offering valet parking is particularly welcome. Just pull up near the Champion Brewing Company and hand over the keys. At just five bucks, it's the best deal going--and most Larimer Square businesses will pick up part of the tab.
Readers' choice: Cherry Creek Mall
Best Place to Buy a Teddy Bear
Coppelia Classical Dolls, Bears and Cookie Jars
1084 S. Gaylord St.
At Coppelia, Smokey gets in your eyes--and he's likely to be a collector's item. Choose from the VanderBears collection, featuring impersonating bruins like Cyrano, Einstein and the leather-clad Rebear Without a Cause, or pick a nostalgic vintage reproduction. And that's just the bears. Don't miss the fancy Madame Alexander dolls with ruffly details and real eyelashes.
Best Alternative to Barbie
Jus' Like Me!
9216 W. Euclid Ave., Littleton
Let's face it: No matter how much a growing girl binds her feet and watches her fat intake, she's never going to grow into anything remotely resembling that Barbie doll she plays with. So why not start her out with a more reasonable role model--herself? Jus' Like Me! creates hand-painted, cloth portrait dolls that look just like their owners.
Best Toy for Grown-ups
Cross Conditioning Systems
1898 S. Flatiron Ct., Boulder
The rowing machine sailed into the sunset at your last garage sale; the Stairmaster no longer rises to the occasion. For a real workout, try the XL 100, the brainchild of the Cross Conditioning Systems. This high-tech, high-priced (factory-direct at $4,995) ultimate workout machine exercises legs and arms simultaneously, involving more muscles than any other machine on the market.
Best Mobile Munchies
When you're recovering from a hard day at the office--or just suffering from a bad case of recliner butt--who has the energy to cook? Tasty Taxi delivers meals from a wide range of local restaurants for just a $3 service fee.
Wimmer-Ferguson Child Products Inc.
P.O. Box 100427
You've seen Infant-Stim mobiles at the homes of practically every new parent--they consist of a series of black-and-white discs with designs reminiscent of the late Sixties. What you might not have realized is that they're made here in Denver by Wimmer-Ferguson. More important, they really work. Babies naturally gravitate to the mobile's striking design--and so do adults. They're even nice to have around if you haven't yet reproduced.
Best Recovery Room
The Get Well Shop
12028 E. Mississippi Ave., Aurora
Sure, bouquets of flowers are swell--but the bloom will be off the rose long before the recipient leaves the hospital. If the patient faces a long convalescence, he or she might appreciate a more practical gift--and the Get Well Shop is just the spot to find everything from collapsible canes to actually attractive bedpans.
Best Place to Buy Roses
Blue Moon Floral & Gifts
330 E. 6th Ave.
A rose by any other name might smell as sweet, but at Blue Moon Floral & Gifts, you'll get them cheap. The sweet-smelling shop sells two dozen short-stemmed roses for only $5.99; $10 will get you fifty. The long-stemmed variety cost a little bit more, but are still an American Beauty of a bargain--two dozen will set you back only $9.99.
1205 W. Evans Ave.
Dardano's Flowerland has all the homey ambience of your grandpa's backyard--in fact, he probably shopped there himself back when big lawns and crisp privet hedges were the norm. Now that xeriscaping and native perennials rule the landscape, Dardano's still satisfies your every garden need. Flowerland has the lowest local prices on choice plants and a whole section devoted to drought-resistant species. While you're picking up vigorous seedlings by the flat, be prepared to gush over exotic offerings like burbling water gardens and hard-to-find houseplants.
Readers' choice: (tie) Dardano's and Tagawa Garden Center & Florist
end of part 3